Today’s post is part of a six week series on how to start and facilitate a women’s Bible study group. We’ll cover the basics like what and why, as well as the more difficult parts, like who and how. Our hope is to encourage you to study God’s word with fellow believers, equipping you with practical how-tos for starting a study in your local church or community. If you’re just joining us, you can start at the beginning of the series here or jump to the second, third, fifth, and sixth posts.
When we study the Bible, we’re often left with parts of scripture we’re still wrestling with. Even the most mature believers don’t have all the answers after working through a passage! Because every believer still has room to learn and grow, we can gather together with excitement, ready to study God’s word from different perspectives and backgrounds. In God’s great plan, he designed for us to live in community and lean on one another as we grow together in our knowledge of him. Gathering a group of women for Bible study is not only a great way to make friends and spend time together, but it’s also instructive for our Christian walk.
But sometimes, when we want to start a Bible study, it’s hard to know where to begin. First, always check with your local church. Most churches offer formal Bible studies through a women’s ministry with daytime and/or evening meeting options. But if your local church doesn’t offer one, or it’s an off-season, it might be a good idea to start your own group! This can seem daunting at first, but it’s not difficult. It just takes someone who’s willing to stay organized and coordinate the details! Sometimes, it’s even nice to grab a couple of friends so you can all put your heads together, planning and supporting each other throughout the process. And remember – just because you’re coordinating the group of women, it doesn’t mean you have to have all the answers!
Here are a few tips as you gather together women to study the Bible:
It’s always best to start with prayer. Pray that God will gather together the right women for the study, lead you with wisdom in selecting the appropriate curriculum, and equip you to diligently persevere as a leader throughout the length of the study.
Consider who to invite.
While God can graciously use bible study groups to meet some of our emotional or relational needs, it’s important to have a right heart when meeting with other women. Our motivations should center around loving God and loving others, putting their needs before our own. As you think through women to include in the group, consider inviting women in different life stages and from different cultural backgrounds. You will always find a common interest in the gospel, and God often uses those most unlike us to make us more like himself.
Determine when and where you’ll meet (and what it will look like).
There are no special requirements for this one – and it will look vastly different depending on the needs of your group! Get creative with where to meet. Maybe it’s in a group member’s home after all the kiddos go to bed, in the daytime during a park playdate, a night out at a local restaurant, or even a Google Hangout across state lines during naptime. The options are endless, but keep a few things in mind:
It doesn’t have to be perfect. If you or another woman in the group chooses to host - wonderful! Just remember that growing in your understanding of God’s word doesn’t depend on an empty dishwasher or all the clothes being folded in the drawers upstairs. People understand that real life happens, and often, the imperfections make it easier for everyone to feel comfortable during the conversation.
While refreshments are nice, contrary to popular belief, they are not a requirement for a Bible study! Don’t feel like someone needs to make a triple chocolate cake or a seven-layer trifle for each meeting. Of course, if you love to bake, have at it! But there is nothing wrong with apple slices and a sleeve of Oreos, or even just meeting over coffee and tea.
Childcare. (This always seems to be the biggie.) If your group is made up of moms, especially moms of little ones, you’ll need to consider childcare needs. Will the discussion time be a casual meet up at a local park while the kiddos run on the playground, or something more formal – with everyone chipping in a few bucks for childcare in the basement while the moms meet upstairs? Settling this upfront will help women know how to plan so they can be involved in the study.
Determine what you’ll study.
You can do this beforehand, or poll the women that agree to participate with a few options once you’ve narrowed it down. Visit this post for more details on selecting the actual study for your group.
Make the ask.
Once you have the basic details nailed down, make the ask! Shoot out an email, Vox or text, make a few phone calls, or find them in person and let them know the details the study. As much as possible, give women time to make sure it works well with their families’ schedules.
While we’ll discuss leading a study in the next post, as the study coordinator, one of your roles will be communicating housekeeping details with the members. This might be arranging a babysitter, making alternate plans if the host is sick, or emailing the group each week letting them know what you’re discussing.
Remember, even the most brilliant human minds struggle to determine truth in isolation, which is why meeting with a group of people to discuss scripture is so important. Most of the time, the most difficult part of studying the Bible together is finding someone who is willing to organize it. Step out in faith to coordinating a study, and you’ll bless many women around you as you all grow in your devotion and understanding of God’s word together.